In my series called “Future of Project Management Software” I am talking with Project Management software vendors about their view of the future. This time a conversation with Vadim Katcherovski from Easy Projects .NET.
What, do you think, Project management Software will look like in 5-10 years?
It’s hard to predict what kind of technologies will be available in 5-10 years, however I’m pretty sure that “go-and-do-everything” robots won’t be available yet (at least not to everyone), so regular mortals will still have to manage and execute their projects. That having been said, I strongly believe that the focus of project management software will shift from data to people. I think the future of project management software is in a true collaborative environment, where two or more people will not only be able to see and hear each other, but also share, visualize and manipulate the context: e.g. if one person changes the schedule, everyone else instantly sees the change and is able to make respective changes as well.
What are the technologies that will be driving the software?
Developing technologies generally percolate into the market, and while we never know what crazy technologies are brewing in the top secret labs around the world, it is easy to spot the emerging trends. From what I can see, communications, AI, virtual reality and mobile technologies will be driving the future of PM software. These technologies will ensure that key information is easily accessible to everyone regardless of geographical or time-related barriers.
Virtual or 3D-environment technologies might even become critical for some projects. For example, constructing a new office building. This is a big project and having the owner able to see each stage of the building’s construction online without having to be physically present is a big deal and a big advantage. Now in this scenario, the project management software is also smart enough to know (from past projects done in this city and state) which building permits might be needed when, and when each inspection will happen (it can coordinate with the inspector’s calendar on your behalf). The ability of the PM software to do this can eliminate costly stoppages while permits or inspections would occur.
The key change in PM software is that it really will begin to focus on people rather than focusing on the data, and for PM software vendors to understand that most projects fail because of human to human interactions, not because the software tools failed.
How do you think tools will support proper communication between mobile, multi-cultural teams?
First of all, proper communication is essential to mobile teams, so in 5 to 10 years, all standard desktop-based products that don’t support remote teams will simply disappear. Presently, web-based project management tools are gaining prevalence in the market due to their collaborative abilities. The ideal tool of the future will further strengthen this team communication by providing each stakeholder with information personalized to their specific cultural context.
For example, a person in Spain will see the same information as his colleague in India, but that information will be presented in a completely different way, set up to ensure the fastest comprehension by each end user. We call this specific context for each user “local context”. The goal of local context is to present project data in a way the person will understand it, but it is also a critical piece in each project team member understanding each other.
How do you think tools will build a sense of community?
Studies show that people living on upper floors of a building tend to go outside for a walk less frequently than their counterparts living on lower floors.
When there are barriers like too many steps involved, the subconscious kicks in and a person feels that the obstacle outweighs all other desires (i.e. to interact with the community, in this case) The same principle applies to software. In the future, software developers must focus on eliminating barriers. The less barriers users encounter while using software, sharing information and communicating with others, the more inclined they will be to become an active part of the community: to contribute, to participate, to engage others. The other issue is that people have to see that there is a personal advantage to being part of the community.
Usually these advantages are that they get more information more quickly, that the community will filter in relevant information for them that they might not have seen. That they get access to people and expertise they might not normally have access to, or that working within the community they can complete their tasks in a shorter time and more effectively. I think project communities will be a big deal in the near future!
How do you think tools will keep the team focused on the overall goal?
In my opinion, tools alone cannot keep people focused on a goal, but team members and people themselves can. Often it is the role of the project manager to provide focus to the team.
As soon as software stops complicating the lives of project team members and starts adding value to them, people will be able to concentrate on their actual goals and tasks and forget about the tool. For this reason, the ideal PM tool has to be “transparent”, to work behind the scenes so an individual can focus on what’s really important – the goal.
How will decisions be supported (about features, about allocation of resources)?
Future project management software will rely heavily on historical information. Data mining along with Artificial Intelligence will generate predictions that allow project managers to make informed decisions. Who knows, maybe some of the decisions will be made by the software itself. The integration of mind mapping software, and GDSS (group decision support systems) functionality like categorizing, lateral thinking and brain storming will also help teams to make better decisions around a project. When the software will bring up similar issues on other projects and show what decision that team made, as well as the corporate policies, initiatives and goals, all these things will help project teams make better decisions.
What makes your current product different than other Project Management Software?
We believe that focusing our efforts on the following principles allows Easy Projects .NET to stand out in the market:
Focus on users
Most of the people using project management software are not PMI trained project managers, so it is critical to make the software easy enough for them to use effectively.
Ease of use
Easy Projects .NET was specifically designed to make project management hassle free and straightforward. This means that there are no bells and whistles involved and no need to worry about a sophisticated setup process. Learning to manage your projects shouldn’t require an entire training course so EP.NET features an intuitive and friendly interface so easy to use that you will be set up and going in 30 minutes or less.
EP.NET features not just project management, but also time, issue, and request tracking. We believe that our customers should not have to pay for and learn how to use each of these functions separately, so we brought all the features together under a single umbrella.
A customer (or the main stakeholder in the project) should always have a choice! We allow customers the option between running EP.NET in-house (licensed software) or using our hosted SaaS service. If customers want to customize the product – no problem; the source code package to the rescue! If customers need integration with 3rd party tools or add-ons – our API is the perfect solution.
Unlike other well-known products on the market, our customers can actually talk to live people– and support isn’t just limited to the phone; we also offer e-mail, instant messaging and remote access support.